A Flux in Time; Dealing with Change

It has been said the only true constant is change, but what exactly is it? Most important, how do we deal with it? According to Google Dictionary, it is “The act or instance of making or becoming different”. My personal definition is that of “a flux in time.” I like my own description because it reminds me that all change, good or bad, it temporary. It’s a bend in our existence, a hiccup in history. The effects of the Coronavirus has given most of us more change than we have had to confront in recent years.

No matter how you define it, all major change is going to be an upheaval to someone’s life. Even what we consider to be good change will more than likely have a negative effect to someone, somewhere. What it boils down to, is a loss of certainty.

A few years ago, I taught an adult Sunday School class and I noticed a recurring theme with many of the lessons. Whether it was about attitudes, a particular sin, or our relationships with one another, the moral was that to truly see God’s Grace, we would need to let go of our own sense of control. That’s when it struck me that we as humans are actually OUT of control more times in our lives than we are in it. Clock and hammer

As a self-confessed “control freak”, that is not an easy thing for me to do. But the universe is much larger than I. Look at how many times a day, decisions have already been made for us. The alarm clock tells us when to wake up. Society or our spouse tell us we should practice personal hygiene each morning. Traffic lights tell us when we may or may not proceed through an intersection. Our boss tells us what we will do that day and when to leave work. Our children tell us how we will spend our evening. Then, we do it all over again, because we have to. More decisions are made for us than we make ourselves and it has always been that way.

Control is an illusion. But we hold onto that illusion because it gives us a sense of security. We like to know what to expect. The world is a much scarier place if we do not know where our next paycheck was coming from, how we would put food on the table, or whether our children will receive an education. Yet, this is exactly what millions of Americans are dealing with now. Once the pandemic subsides, much of what we once knew in the country will have changed. But to what degree? We will have to wait and see.

Business futurist Alvin Toffler stated in the 70’s; “The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn.” Many may have to find a new job or learn a new skill if the old employer is no longer there. Some having little in-pocket cash have turned to a barter system or trading with neighbors for necessities. Online or “distance” learning is now the new normal. Change has come at us fast. The one thing we still have is how we decide to deal with that change.

Broken_clockMuch has been mentioned about the psychological and emotional health of those who are “sheltered in place” right now. Over the years, I have noticed those who are happiest and most successful in business are those who are able to adapt to the changing times. Fortunately, this rarely involves changing our core principle, but it does mean making a shift in our perspective. Perhaps we all know someone who still believes the internet is just a fad. In fact, it’s the only way in which most schools, institutions and many businesses are functioning at all right now.

There are a few things we can do to help us deal with change and protect the six inches between our ears. I have compiled a list of half a dozen things that will help us transition during and after this current health care crisis.

1) Flexibility; When I was a young pup in the Army, I had a difficult time of dealing with change, especially when the work for one plan had already been done. Sergeant Finnel, my squad leader once told me “Above all, remain flexible”. I’m not sure why he said it that way, but it is something that I always remember him saying. I’m not perfect, but I do strive to be flexible in the face of adversity.

2) Manage Your Expectations; A lot of discussion had been had as to how long we must hunker down in our homes or exercise precaution when we venture out. Physicians and politicians are not always of the same mind as to how long this will last. It’s probably best to set any hard dates in our minds in order to avoid upset later.

3) Show Appreciation; This may be something we do almost begrudgingly, but it is necessary none the less. At the risk of sounding cavalier, keep things in perspective. There are other countries who are having a much more difficult time with the Coronavirus than us.

4) Limit Your News Intake; How much news did you watch a month or two ago? Was it just half an hour a day? Try to return to that level now. I remember after 9/11 it was reported people not anywhere near the attacks suffered from depression simply because they watched the hour-by-hour reports on TV.

5) Establish Daily Routines; Sleeping in until almost Noon when we normally wake at 6 a.m. is not a good practice. We all know how it feels to return to work just after just a week of vacation. If you are not able to work from home, clean. Organize, paint or take up a hobby for a certain amount of hours a day. Gain back a certain amount of that sense of security by keeping a schedule for yourself.

6) Draw on the Support of Others; If you or a family member begins to feel despondent, be certain to have a conversation with loved ones and express yourself or ask for what you feel you need. Also, be there for others, even online. Someone may be having a tougher time of it than you, though they don’t show it. Check on your neighbors, even if you don’t know them that well. A pleasant conversation with you across the fence could be the best part of someone’s day.

Change is inevitable, but we can help one another through it. This is a time of challenge and we decide how will face that challenge. Our attitude, at least, is still in our control.  No doubt, we will discover things about ourselves we never imagined. What do we want those discoveries to be when we look back at the flux in time?

Blaine Little is the founder and CEO of Momentum Seminars Training & Coaching, helping companies remain profitable by investing in their people. He is also a certified life and business coach. Learn more at http://MomentumSeminars.com 

 

Analysis Paralysis

I have taught Realtors and sales forces for almost a decade now. From brand-new rookies to career agents, I know one thing that will never change… change itself! Change will constantly come at us, and no matter how much we think we know, we don’t. There is always the need for additional knowledge and training. Information and experience are vital to the decisions we make on a daily basis. With the knowledge we have, and the benefit of past lessons learned, we can better assess the risk involved with any endeavor that may require an investment of our time, money, or emotions. That being said, we will seldom have an unqualified answer to the question: “Should I stay, or should I go”?

Several years ago, I was training a new twenty-something agent on my sales force when I was with a local RE/Max franchise. One of the first skills I taught this group of “newbies” was how to find prospective clients. This particular agent was attentive, thoughtful, and took copious notes in my Tuesday morning sales meetings. Jeff was what most sales trainers dream of; a clean slate devoid of bad sales habits, someone who was “coachable”. Indeed, he asked a lot of questions every Tuesday morning, and most every other day as well. He asked a lot of good questions, but mostly just A LOT of questions. Initially I didn’t mind. After all, that was part of my job. Although, after a month or more of this, and no clients to show for it, it finally dawned on me where his head was. His lack of confidence in being able to overcome every possible objection, stopped him in his tracks.

One Tuesday morning, after the rest of the team of new agents cleared out of the training room, I said to him; “Jeff, you do realize you will never have all the answers to every challenge that may arise beforehand, don’t you? In other words, you cannot possibly absorb everything from a textbook, or class in an attempt to eliminate a problem before it reveals itself to you”. Jeff looked to the side, back at me, then widened his eyes. This was his moment of Zen. Though I do not consider myself his “guru”, a light had clicked on for him. A switch that for many of us never gets flipped. It’s the realization that in order to pursue success, we must first be willing to fail.

So many people want to keep a perfect track record. As though THAT was more important than actually doing the job itself. I have stated several times; “perfection is overrated“. More on that in a later post. But, this concept of never being willing to make a mistake is sadly permeating our society. It’s not just with the young people, either. Those changing career fields, also seem to have a certain aversion to failure. Granted, there’s nothing wrong with wanting to do a job well. That’s admirable, though it shouldn’t stifle our ability to perform at all. In the words of Marcus Lemonis, “Have no fear and be willing to fail.” Most challenges have more than one solution, but none of them will be completely perfect anyway.

Fortunately, it is NOT the job of a Realtor to know everything. It is the job of the Realtor, or sales professional to understand our client’s goals, then find the information that will be pertinent to our clients making an informed decision. Yes, we are compensated for helping others to avoid (or at least properly assess) the risks involved. That’s why we exist! We are the professionals. But, we didn’t become that by never making mistakes or by just asking a bunch of questions. So stop worrying about not knowing everything, and get to work. Your clients need you!

www.MomentumSeminars.com 

May I Offer a Little Friendly Advice?

There is an old saying: “Free advice is only worth what you paid for it”. Well, hold on! Not everything that is free is completely worthless. Consider the air we breathe. Yes, there are times when advice can be good and beneficial to its receiver. There is another adage: “The best things in life are… FREE”. Perhaps more than the actual advice, we should better scrutinize the source. WHO is the one imparting the sage wisdom? Are they actually a sage? In other words, is it someone who actually has experience in that field?

When I was in business school, we had the occasional adjunct professor teach some of the upper class courses. An “adjunct” was someone who was not on regular staff, but still worked in the industry of which they were teaching. That being the case, they were usually night classes. I always had this feeling that the regular faculty didn’t like adjuncts. Nonetheless, THEY are the ones from whom I learned the most. If I saw an instructors name in the course catalog I didn’t recognize, I knew it was probably a business owner or CEO. It would be someone I could ask real-world questions and get a straight answer. An answer based on experience and not what was already written in the textbook. In other words, I valued their advice.

In real estate, it is estimated over half of all agents nationally quit after the first year in the industry.   One major reason for the high turnover is rookies feel they are not adequately trained in the BUSINESS of real estate. Over a decade ago, I was a real estate trainer for one of the largest RE/Max franchises in the country. It was a job I enjoyed and held that position for about five years. The program I put in place for new agents was hugely successful as evidenced by the stint of their careers. The training was said to be so good that veteran agents of other companies would recommend their friends who wanted to get into real estate to come see me! The managing broker loved me.

Given the acclaim from within as well as externally, you would think all the newbies would always hang on to every word I said in our training meetings, right? Nope! A new agent would knock on my office door and ask “Do you have a minute”? I always made the time. Once they asked a question or told me of a challenge they were having, I would tell them the best course of action or even offer a couple of suggestions. USUALLY, it was based on an experience I actually had throughout the course of my own career. I was puzzled the times they would not heed my words and go it their own way, sometimes re-inventing the wheel.

On one particular incident, one of my agents asked if she could simply use the old house photos from an online listing that had expired with another company. Though I had never heard of such, I told her it was best she take her own listing photos and “start fresh”. Simple enough, right? It may have been laziness on her part, but it certainly was not by accident she posted the old agents pictures online. Three days later the broker of the expired listing’s company called my broker and words were exchanged. I believe the topic was intellectual property rights. Once my young agent caught wind of the conversation, she called the old agent and further exacerbated the situation. Feelings were hurt and there was now bad blood between the two firms, which in real estate is NOT good. Not good at all. All she had to do was take my advice… and her own damned photos.

What I realized was there are people who seek validation rather than unbiased advice. They have an idea and go to the expert. IF the expert agrees… YAY! But if the veteran dissents, they simply do what it is they really wanted to do all along. I use to be extremely annoyed by this, as I considered my time was wasted. Now I see it is part of being human. To varying degrees we all do this. We get it in our head what we want to do, but ask opinions of others to cover ourselves. This is why it is vitally important to suspend making final decisions on important issues until enough workable information is in. Granted, it’s hard to separate our emotions from a logical decision. That’s the human part I was talking about. Consider all the down on their luck gamblers in Las Vegas; a prime example of not separating ideas from emotion.

Real estate is a tough career, but so is public speaking. I’m not even talking about being on stage. That is only 10% of it, the tip of the iceberg. As a public speaker and corporate trainer, I have about ten people a year ask me how to get started as a motivational speaker. I always stop what I am doing and take time to talk to them and answer any question they have. Why? Because a lot of successful speakers along the way stopped to talk to ME. They gave me advice and I took it. I always let novice speakers know the one most IMPORTANT bit of advice I can spare for someone just getting in the business; join Toastmasters International. Toastmasters is a public speaking club where one can learn the skills. The cost is only about $100 annually and generally, members are warm and welcoming. So, how many would-be Tony Robbins took me up on my advice? None! Not a single person I ran into again or called a month later actually joined Toastmasters. My guess is their dream is more attractive than the actual work of bringing it into reality.

My advice to you: the next time you seek someone’s opinion and their idea is contrary to what you initially thought, do further fact finding. However, they may be able to spare you some heartaches and stress. Has this person actually done what it is you want to do? If not, then WHY are you asking them?  Find someone qualified with real-world experience. If something isn’t as easy as you originally thought it was, you’re probably on the right track.

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